Class info

CA346: Critical Internet Studies

(meets with: CA288: Digital Studies Honors Seminar: Critical Internet Studies)

Fall 2011

Lecturer: Danny Kimball                                              Teaching Assistant: Evan Elkins

dkimball[at]wisc[dot]edu                                             eelkins[at]wisc[dot]edu

6052 Vilas                                                                    6053 Vilas

Office hours: Mon 9-11 am                                            Office hours: Thurs 12-2 pm


Tues & Thurs, 11-11:50 am

1111 Humanities

Discussion sections (led by Evan)

301 – Tues, 12:05-12:55 pm, 346 Birge                        304 – Wed, 11-11:50 am, 1180 Grainger                  

Section blog                                                               Section blog

303 – Tues, 3:30-4:20 pm, 120 Ingraham                  305 – Wed, 12:05-12:55 pm, 4028 Vilas            

Section blog                                                           Section blog

CA288: Digital Studies Honors Seminar: Critical Internet Studies

CA346 lecture meets with CA288, an Honors Seminar for the Digital Studies: Internet & Society Freshmen Interest Group. Those enrolled in CA288 should attend CA346 lecture and meet in the following discussion section.

CA288 Honors Seminar (led by Danny)

Tues, 1:20-2:10 pm, 151 Education

Section blog

Additional course resources (optional)

Facebook: Group: UW Critical Internet Studies

Twitter: hashtag: #ca346

Danny: @djkimball; Evan: @EvanElkins

Course Description

The internet has become an immensely pervasive and powerful medium for the production, circulation, and consumption of information, communication, and culture. It has risen quickly to prominence, but the internet is still a new medium that has yet to reach most of the world’s population, for which user abilities vary greatly, and around which many political struggles remain to be resolved.

This class is a survey that will trace the internet’s history, explain some of its basic technological structures, look at its role in social life including identity and community formation and performance, its formal and vernacular politics and policies, and its involvement in popular and participatory cultures. We will explore these themes while looking at the internet from historical, social scientific, political economic, aesthetic, rhetorical, and cultural studies approaches.

Course objectives

At the conclusion of this course, students should:

  1. Have command of at least one critical approach and associated research methodology;
  2. Be able to analyze internet media in relation to at least one central course theme;
  3. Recall key elements of the social, cultural, political, and technological history of the internet;
  4. Be able to use at least one contemporary online site or service professionally and/or socially.


Participation, in classroom and on blog            20%

Practicum project                                           20%

4 quizzes                                                        20%

Midterm paper                                              20%

Final exam                                                    20%

Assignments are due on the date listed on the syllabus. In-class quizzes and presentations cannot be made up after the fact. Class attendance is mandatory and more than two absences from discussion section will harm your participation grade.

Important information

This course is designed to be intellectually challenging, broadening your knowledge and critical thinking skills in relation to a medium that you use every day. Thus, some material might challenge your common sense knowledge and thinking. You will be asked to keep an open mind as you engage critically with scholarly works, the popular press, and your everyday experiences.

If you are associated with the McBurney Center, or require accommodations for any assignment, we are happy to do what we can. Notify your instructor of any necessary accommodations as soon as possible. For more information, contact: the McBurney Disability Resource Center, 905 University Ave, 608.263.2741, TTY 608.263.6393.

Remember: the University of Wisconsin treats plagiarism as a serious academic offense. You can find the official policy on academic dishonesty in your student handbook or online here. Any student suspected of academic dishonesty will be dealt with through the Office of the Dean.

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